Britain warns Libya over Lockerbie bomber celebration

August 20th, 2010 - 3:46 pm ICT by IANS  

London, Aug 20 (IANS) Britain has warned Libya not to celebrate the first anniversary of Lockerbie bomber’s release from a Scottish jail Friday, saying any celebration of Abdelbaset al-Megrahi’s freedom will be “offensive and deeply insensitive to the victims’ families”.
“The government is clear that Megrahi’s release was a mistake. Both the current prime pinister and the Foreign Secretary made this clear at the time,” the Daily Telegraph quoted a spokeswoman for the foreign office as saying.

“Any celebration of Megrahi’s release will be tasteless, offensive and deeply insensitive to the victims’ families. We have made our concerns clear to the Libyan government,” she said.

Al-Megrahi, a Libyan intelligence officer, was convicted in the Dec 21, 1988, bombing of the Pan Am Flight 103 from London to New York. All 243 passengers and 16 crew members on board the plane were killed in the blast, while 11 people in Lockerbie in Scotland died as large section of the plane fell around the town.

Al-Megrahi served just over eight years of his sentence in Scotland’s Greenock Prison, before being diagnosed with prostate cancer and released on compassionate grounds Aug 20 last year. But his continued survival has fuelled anger in the US.

Libyan officials said Thursday that he was now expected to live another two years.

Libyan leader Colonel Muammar Gaddafi has decreed that Megrahi must receive the same level of medical care afforded to state leaders.

Officials said his wife, mother, four sons, daughter and brothers, planned to mark the anniversary of his release by gathering for an iftar meal, which breaks the daily Ramadan fast.

The bomber has recently begun further chemotherapy for prostate cancer and will receive the latest drugs from America.

A Libyan official said: “Megrahi is getting personal attention from the best doctors. The brother leader (as Gaddafi is called) is very happy with Megrahi’s progress.”

When not undergoing treatment, Megrahi lives in a large villa in the capital. His family has thrived and his sons have been granted lucrative government jobs.

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